One of the things that happens on this day is that more people tend to thank Veterans for their service to the United States of America on more than any other day. While I think that we should take every opportunity we have to thank men and women who have served this country, I also realize that most of them aren’t actively looking for a thanks and are just fine with someone occasionally saying something. I should do it more often. However, because today is Veterans Day I was very cognizant of my responsibility to say “thank you” to a group of veterans walking up Savannah Highway this morning with a police escort. They were carrying flags and there were men and women. Though I don’t know their stories, I did notice that the man in the lead was wearing a shirt that had USMC across the front. He stood out to me. Not because of the shirt, or the American flag he was proudly carrying, but because he was an amputee. One of his legs was a prosthetic. Noticing this, made the action of me rolling down my window and slowing down to 10mph to thank them for their service, pale in comparison to the actual sacrifice each one of them has made and probably continue to make for our way of life. But I knew that I needed to do it anyway.
Last night, as I was winding things down for the evening I ran across a video on YouTube of a veteran named Dakota Meyer who in in 2011 was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic act of saving many lives in a battle in 2009. The interview I saw was raw and uncut. A raw and uncut interview is a rare thing to see on network TV, so this production of a podcast that viewed on YouTube, was the real thing. Nothing was taken out, including his human emotions relative to his actions of the day he qualified for the medal. He spoke very candidly of his experience of saving lives and killing an insurgent who had attacked him from behind. However, something he said really spoke to the nature of war. He said:
Paraphrased: (This guy believed in his cause as much as I believed in mine. He was someones son, and might have been someones husband or dad. Don’t get me wrong, I had no choice but to kill him. And if, for freedom, I had to do it again I would, because there is no one else to do it. He was trying to kill me and the people he was fighting with were evil and had evil purposes. But at the same time, there was a moment in our fight where I realized he knew it was over for him. In that moment, this became something all together different. I saw a man just like me, and that is something that changes you.) Paraphrase ended.
When I heard him say those words, it struck me. It struck me because of the depths of sacrifice that men and women in uniform make for their country. And they are glad to do what they do. But at the same time, they come home with tremendous struggles. Meyer, struggles with PTSD and that struggle came to a head in a dark moment before he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. Meyer attempted to take his own life and luckily the gun he was using was empty. He sought help and received it. And since then, just like thousands upon thousands of service men and women, he is moving on with his life the best way that he can.
On this Veterans day, my suggestion is that we all see what we can do to make the lives of men and women who have selflessly made sacrifices and have been wounded in many ways, —– better!!! . We have what it takes. We can reach out our hands and open our arms to these men and women who have said “I will stand in the line of fire for people who like me and people who don’t.” Regardless of political leanings and opinions on which wars are “just” and which wars are “unjust”, they deserve our thanks. The fact of the matter is that we live with more liberty than any culture in the history of human civilization. We have the freedom to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ in any way we want to. And there are men and women, who for a period of time, give up their freedom to go else where and fight a battle no one else is willing to fight. Let’s honor them. God is good, and His word says:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13